(WBC) S. Korea manager blames self for poor bullpen management in loss to Japan

TOKYO, South Korea manager Lee Kang-chul blamed himself for a crushing defeat to Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Friday night, saying his ill-timed pitching change cost the team.

South Korea blew a 3-0 lead to fall 13-4 for its second straight loss in Pool B at Tokyo Dome. It now stands on the brink of elimination with two games to go and doesn't control its own destiny.

South Korea scored three times in the top third but allowed four right back in the bottom third. South Korea never led again, as Japan pounded on South Korean pitching.

Starter Kim Kwang-hyun walked the first two batters of the third before surrendering two straight hits. Reliever Won Tae-in then gave up a go-ahead, two-run single to Masataka Yoshida.

"We grabbed the early momentum, but I didn't make a pitching change when I should have," Lee said at his postgame press conference. "I didn't get the job done in that regard."

Lee admitted the third inning was the turning point of the game.

"If you keep the opponents off the board after scoring early runs, then you're usually able to maintain that momentum," Lee said. "But we gave the momentum right back."

Lee ended up using 10 pitchers and said not all of them pitched to the best of their abilities.

"They are all good pitchers," Lee said. "Hopefully, they will learn from this experience, and they will be able to perform better at the next opportunity."

Lee gave Japan credit for playing well but said he didn't think the final score was indicative of the gap in the talent level between the two nations.

"I think our players have so much more to show than this," Lee said. "If they develop further, we should be able to give Japan a pretty good game."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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